One of the greatest basketball players this country ever produced, Cecil Rose, has gone on into eternity.
Rose, a league, high school, collegiate star shooting guard, died last Friday (December 27) in Houston. Rose, 60, despite an age controversy, became a legend of Florida high school basketball.
During the early 1970s, Rose, Charles Thompson, Osborne Lockhart and Mychal Thompson revolutionized high school basketball in Florida at Miami Jackson High.
He was the architect of a 33-0 perfect run and although the question of his age resulted in deep controversy, his Jackson team remains legendary for its accomplishments with Rose leading the way along with his three fellow Bahamians.
After Miami Jackson, his decision was to opt for the University of Houston (UH) out of a number of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I institutions that wanted him.
Rose joined with Otis Birdsong, 1974-1978, to give UH one of its greatest backcourt combinations in the school’s history.
He gathered a wealth of significant connections during his tenure at UH and in the brief period he spent on the National Basketball Association (NBA) camp scene.
That background was to serve him well in life after competitive basketball. In particular, his basketball connections at the highest levels, enabled him to be one of the biggest contributors in sports tourism to the Ministry of Tourism.
The Bahamian tourism ministry is where he spent most of his adult life. Rose was the catalyst for the annual visit of the NBA Players Association, for its congress.
Rose loved being a part of our tourism ministry. He was very depressed when it was decided to adjust the sports department of the ministry under the then Minister of Tourism Neko Grant.
All of a sudden, a large part of his world closed off. He was disappointed and became very depressed.
Actually, Rose kind of went underground. Although we had interacted regularly through the years, he stayed out of contact with me and many others.
Then, in June of 2012, he called. Rose sounded like his old self again. He said he was inspired and getting ready to return to the tourism mix.
He came to Nassau to finalize the process. He visited me and expressed just how happy he was at the new opportunity. I don’t think the meetings went as he expected. He left town and I never heard from him again. Now, he is gone. What he had in mind for sports tourism will remain unfulfilled.
He is at rest though and we are left with some really good memories of the little boy from South Market Street who forged through shyness to develop into a special Bahamian icon. Cecil Rose Jr. will be missed. May his soul forever rest in peace!
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmaIl.com)